Thursday, July 16, 2009

On "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury ***

It has been probably close to two decades since I last read Ray Bradbury--and since I first read him. That work was Farenheit 451, which I recall thinking was fine, but not enough to inspire me to rush out and read the rest of his work. "Something Wicked" provided a slightly more complex reaction--but one that in the end is essentially the same. Bradbury's obsession with books is evident early on, with a major character working as a janitor in a library and two boys who enjoy scouring the stacks.

But the book turns mean quick, with the arrival of a fair of freaks. Watch out for the weirdos--they might just be trying to get your soul. Seems kind of fifties--you know, "strange people means strange things." Watch out for folks who are different. And the people who do the best watching--why, of course, twelve-year-old boys. I found the whole thing rather unbelievable, and given that this is a fantasy novel, some level of belief needs to be obtained if I'm to enjoy the thing. Beyond that, parts of these early passages seemed deliberately preaching as well as deliberately lyrical (lyricism is great; forced lyricism not so much).

But then what happened? Somewhere in here the janitor (one of the boy's father) gets involved, and I started to actually feel like this world perhaps made sense. And the action picked up, and there were moments of suspense. And then? And then came the crazy ending, the solution, the means of chasing the demons away. I won't bother telling folks who haven't read it what it is, but my feelings were jolted back to my initial ones. In the end, I didn't really much care.

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